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In light of the completion of the 2014 SRCs term, Perdeby spoke to SRC President Enwee Human about his term of office and feelings for the 2015 SRC term.
What were your aims for your tenure?
To build the foundation for future SRCs to come and to ensure that the Constitution for Student Governance is implemented successfully.
A lot of changes have taken place during your tenure. What is your take on these changes?
Yes, it is true a lot of changes took place. With UP working towards its 2025 vision, changes on all levels need to take place. It is not always easy to see these decisions being made, but in the view of our goal as University, a lot of these decisions and changes that [were] made, [were] made with the 2025 vision in mind. Growing pains are difficult, unfortunately.
What and how much influence did you have on the changes that have been instituted? How do you feel you may have influenced the university council? What are your feelings on the council?
Council, first and foremost, does not make these decisions as we understand it. It is more focussed on the bigger university picture. The decisions/changes as referred to are made by the UP executive management.
In a lot of changes, we as the SRC came up with some solutions to problems that were faced in previous years. The changes being made by executive management [were] in consultation with the SRC. Irrespective of influence that I had, or any other SRC member had, the decision of the executive management will be implemented.
What were the obstacles faced in achieving your aims?
Due to the fact that the SRC had to create a platform this year, it was a learning curve with every turn. Creating a proper communication platform was one of our biggest issues, which we still need to implement, and hopefully this will ensure that the SRC for 2015 will be even more accessible and transparent.
How transparent was your SRC and how did you achieve this transparency?
We as the SRC tried our best to give out information as soon as we have it, and to be as transparent as possible. This is difficult to do with no communication platform that all students can access.
Where do you think forum meetings could be improved and what do you think should be left as is?
The student forum is still a growing pain. It must definitely be improved for students to keep their SRC accountable. The interaction between students and the SRC on this platform should be created. I am proposing that the SRC for 2015 should ask for input from the student forum before setting up a plan of action for their term as this will ensure that they serve the entire student body.
How did you manage the varying interests that existed among your SRC members, and how do you think these affected the efficiency and the ability to achieve your objectives or to respond to certain issues?
It is a fine balancing act that you have to do your very best at trying every day. I do think that in every group there will be members who do not necessarily agree with everyone else but in the end there is a single goal that is worked towards – the needs of our students that we serve.
What are the ongoing issues that will now be transferred to your successor?
To our new president there are a few things that I have picked up on that can become a problem. This includes: NSFAS and historical debt students not being able to re-register in 2015, residence placements and the bus to Sunnyside/Arcadia (yes, it was funded by the SRC for the last part of the year but the biggest problem will be to have it running on a permanent basis). I predict a total cut of clubhouses in residences for 2015 leading into 2016. I also have a prediction that residences will be split into first and senior residences in 2016. Also, the number of students voting in elections is still not acceptable and it must be increased in some way, either by online voting or [another plan]. That is something that he must work on.
What are your opinions on your successor as an independent candidate?
He will be able to look at problems in an independent manner, [to] see all sides of the story before making recommendations and decisions. I think he will do a great job and [will] hopefully build on what we created, to ensure that students’ rights and voices are listened to at UP.
It is to my understanding that as of next year the university will not be allowing students with historical debt to continue with their studies unless their debt has been covered, as is the norm, the difference being that NSFAS students will be included this year. Is this true and, if so, what are your predictions on how students will be affected by this?
The effect on our student body will be immense. I foresee a huge amount of work [in] the study finance portfolio for next year. Loads of students will be excluded financially by the institution.
Enwee Human. Photo: Hendro van der Merwe